Sheffield Focuses On Improving Air Quality

The authorities of the city in England have tied up with transport tech company VivaCity to install AI sensors that access traffic flow
Staff Reporter | UK | Facilities Management

Transport technology scaleup VivaCity has partnered with Sheffield City Council to set up a three-year monitoring programme to assess the impact of the area’s newly introduced clean air zone (CAZ).The project announcement comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UK government acknowledge that air pollution is the largest environmental health risk today, causing up to 36, 000 deaths in the UK every year.

A network of 17 VivaCity AI sensors have been implemented to gather accurate and detailed general traffic flow on the outer ring road, as well as increases and decreases in traffic, and the impact of CAZ in pollutants. These are co-located with air quality sensors that capture the environmental and health benefits of reduced vehicle activity.

As part of the UK government’s broader Air Quality Plan, a Clean Air Zone is an area within a city where a local authority has brought measures into place to improve the air quality. Sheffield’s CAZ is a class C chargeable zone for the most polluting heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), light goods vehicles (LGVs), vans, buses, coaches, and taxis that drive in the zone.

Greg Fell, Director of Public Health for Sheffield City Council, said, “When it comes to air pollution the evidence is clear – there is no safe limit. In Sheffield alone, air pollution contributes to between 250 to 500 deaths each year, and causes life threatening illnesses such as strokes, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the damage caused by air pollution. For children, the effects begin as early as the baby’s first weeks in the womb.”

“Initiatives, such as the clean air zone in Sheffield, will be a step towards cleaner air and a higher standard of health for local people. Through the CAZ we are working towards lowering harmful levels of NO2 in the city by reducing the number of older and heavier polluting vehicles driving around the wider Sheffield area, and sensors, such as VivaCity’s, are an integral part of monitoring traffic flow, alongside air quality sensors to understand the impact of Sheffield’s CAZ.”

Mark Nicholson, CEO and Co-Founder, VivaCity, said, “With the implementation of the government’s clean air plan and clean air zones, it is crucial to monitor traffic flow, emissions, and air quality. Working with Sheffield City Council, we look forward to gathering this data and analysing the impact of the new CAZ. Improving air quality and reducing pollutants is an important cause to the VivaCity team, and we hope to continue delivering sustainable transport plans based on real-world evidence.”

VivaCity’s sustainable transport solution, Smart Traffic Monitoring, delivers a range of benefits for sustainable transport planning, monitoring and evaluation. It aims to help local authorities reduce emissions, decarbonise transport, and achieve Net Zero targets. The company was awarded the Queen’s Enterprise Award for Innovation in 2021, and its sensors have so far been deployed in over 90 towns and cities across the UK.

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